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Turok was the first console game I ever owned. Got it for Christmas along with a NINTENDO SIXTY-FOUUURRRRR!

I wanted Mario 64 though, got this instead. Never realised it was 70 quid back then.

I was six though. So I could never beat the first level...

Edited by Glen-i
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Power Pros Baseball 4


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  • JP release: 14th March 1997
  • NA release: N/A
  • PAL release: N/A
  • Developer: Diamond Head
  • Publisher: Konami
  • N64 Magazine Score: 54%
  • Original Name: Jikkyō Pawapuro Puroyakyu 4

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Another Japanese only baseball game, this time from the long running Power Pros series, with its bobblehead style design and rather charming graphics. I am vaguely familiar with this franchise due to a baseball player in this style appearing in the great Konami Krazy Racers on GBA.

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Right off the bat, this plays very much like King of Pro Baseball, aiming your bat with the analogue stick (although the cursor is much, much better) while the batter aims without a cursor. I could actually hit the ball much more, although not consistently enough to get a run.

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This isn’t helped by how great the computer is at fielding. Their fielders are extremely quick, so will get to your base to get your out, and that’s if they don’t catch is outright, which is a very common occurrence. I do wish these games had more practice modes where you could practice hitting as long as you want.

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One major feature of these games is one that has a bit too much text for me to keep up with: the success mode. This is a RPG-like mode where you pick choices for training and relaxing as you slowly become a successful baseball player. It was definitely an interesting mode, but one with a big translation barrier – for Japanese-speaking players, this is probably a great mode.

Quote

After a while you start to wonder whether first base actually exists or is just some Clash-of-the-Titans style mythical land.

- Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #3

Remake or Remaster?

I don’t know enough about baseball games, but they are testing the waters with a new game.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Power Pros 4, although there is a current version of the game on PS4 and Switch for less than a quid (no RPG mode, though).

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And thus, King of Pro Baseball's existence was immediately rendered pointless as soon as PP4 released :)

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Blast Corps
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  • JP release: 21st March 1997
  • NA release: 24th March 1997
  • PAL release: 22nd December 1997
  • Developer: Rare
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 88%

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This game takes a silly concept and just has a ton of fun with it. The story is simple: there is a nuclear missile being transported on an automated truck. The truck malfunctions and heads to a location in a straight line. If it collides with anything, it will explode. Your mission is to destroy everything in its path.

I played this game as a kid but never got far due to the difficulty, but gave it a proper play a few years ago via Rare Replay and loved it. It was great giving it another blast for this.

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At its core, Blast Corps is an action-puzzle game. You have a limited time to destroy everything in the missile’s path (the game will highlight vital buildings), but while it starts off as simply ramming into everything, the game will introduce new elements in the way of different vehicles, using TNT for large buildings and also filling up gaps. Some levels are straightforward, while others will require you to explore the level to find the vehicles you need to proceed.

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The vehicles have a massive variety, with cars, weaponised bikes, dump trucks, various mechs and some with specific uses – such as the Sideswipe which shunts panels sideways or the Skyfall, which has a sturdy undercarriage that requires you to use jumps to land on buildings from above. Some of them – like cars and trains – aren’t used for damage, but more to solve puzzles and to get between different vehicles.

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Then there’s the Backlash. A dump truck that is the most difficult vehicle to use. When ramming, it does very little damage, instead, it causes damage by hitting stuff with the rear end – but reversing is too slow. You need to use its “slide” ability to drift the back of the truck into buildings, which is extremely difficult to get to grips with. I did get competent enough to get through the game, but I still didn’t enjoy it as much as other vehicles.

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Once you’ve cleared a path and beaten a level for the first time, you can return to complete the remaining objectives. With no timer, this part of the game is a welcome relaxation to contrast the frantic main mission. You need to demolish other buildings (the game claims you are rescuing survivors), activate little light bacons and search for beacons to unlock bonus missions. You also need to scour some of the levels for hidden scientists.

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One this is over, the game isn’t over. You can now try to unlock medals. The levels are restored and now you have to try and beat them as quick as possible (although the time from the first playthrough counts, so you don’t need to do it again if you were already fast enough), which unlocks a few bonus challenges across different planets.

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Blast Corps is immensely fun to play and there really hasn’t been anything like it since. It took a fun, simple concept and did a lot with it, focusing on the gameplay and enjoyment. There hasn’t been anything quite like it since it game out, and that’s a massive shame. While you can get the game on Rare Replay, Blast Corps definitely deserves a spruced up remaster.

Quote

There’s much to enjoy about Blast Corps, too, from the infinite variety of special effects, packed with colour and detail, to the inventive and varied level layouts. It’s original, clever and undeniably great fun to play.

- Jonathan Davies, N64 Magazine #3

Remake or Remaster?

A remaster would be great. Widescreen, some control options, framerate improvements and a few graphical touches. Perhaps include a “easy” option for the Backlash. A new game would also be lovely.

Official ways to get the game.

This is available via Rare Replay on Xbox One/Series.

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It's surprising that nobody else has ripped this game off.  It's such a simple concept that's immediately understanding and appealing.

You could even be super cynical and fill it full of gangsters, hookers and cops chasing after you; with pedestrians that you can also mow down... kids would love it!

But then again... you'd have to actually be talented to make good level design that would be fun, and good level design is hard; so maybe that's why it has never happened?

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On 19/01/2024 at 8:49 AM, Glen-i said:

Turok was the first console game I ever owned. Got it for Christmas along with a NINTENDO SIXTY-FOUUURRRRR!

I wanted Mario 64 though, got this instead. Never realised it was 70 quid back then.

I was six though. So I could never beat the first level...

That is fucking freaky, my brother and I were saving up for a game (back in t'day) and the plan was to buy Turok, but we got Mario 64 instead.

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Doraemon: Nobita and the Three Fairy Spirit Stones

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  • JP release: 21st March 1997
  • NA release: N/A
  • PAL release: N/A
  • Developer: Epoch
  • Publisher: Epoch
  • N64 Magazine Score: 60%
  • Original Name: Doraemon: Nobita to Mittsu no Seireiseki

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Doraemon is a very popular anime/manga character. I’ve definitely seen the robo cat’s design before. The first N64 outing took inspiration from Super Mario 64 – to the point that multiple reviewers at the time suggested it was close enough for Nintendo’s lawyers to get involved. While it looks a bit like Super Mario 64 (especially the first level, with trees looking like they were stripped out), but it doesn’t play like Mario.

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Doraemon is a 3D platformer and is a lot like Mario, but different in many ways. You have access to five different characters (plus a bonus one after beating the game) – Doraemon himself and the kids he hangs out with. There’s a girl that jumps higher than the rest and throws bombs, there’s kid that looks like Tommy Pickles that punches and does more damage, while Doraemon has an arm cannon. Interestingly, the title character, Nobita, is just a poor gameplay clone of Doraemon, so there’s no reason to ever use him. You can swap between them at will, but the game never makes use of this mechanic.

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Then there’s the actual movement. Mario had a wide moveset, in Doraemon you have one kind of jump. It’s stiff and clunky and to make matters work, your character comes to a complete stop when you land. When the movement of a platforming game is dull, it makes the whole game dull. There are a few minigames thrown in, such as a racing game and a scrolling vertical shooter, but these are similarly boring to control.

Doraemon: Nobita and the Three Fairy Spirit Stones

The story is something I had to rely on Google translate, which baffled me as the first line came out as “Is it coronavirus?”, it turned out that the King’s name is “Korona”. Anyway, an ancient danger has awoken, the princess is sent to get help from another world because Doraemon has a magical pocket. The pocket gets stolen, but you get it back early on, but the objects are missing. Oh, and there are some fairy stones that you also need to collect pieces off to defeat the ancient evil.

The stones are simple, as they’re just at the end of levels, but the other objects are hidden in chests across the world. Some are optional, some are required, and you have to do some really random things for some, including repeating previous levels (but only some).

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Doraemon isn’t atrocious, there’s just nothing good about it. The levels all feel random with no stand out visual design to them, and the gameplay itself is just boring. Japanese speakers who are fans of the show might get something out of the (fairly generic) story and random objects (I’m just guessing that they might be references), but it would still be tedious to play through the game.

 

Quote

A pleasant enough time-waster, then, but never up to the standard of the game it so desperately wants to be.

- Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #2

Remake or Remaster?

There isn’t much reason to play this game.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Doraemon

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Considering the time frame of its release? This honestly looks pretty impressive, especially for a cheap licensed game.

3D platformers are amongst the most difficult types of games to make, but especially in the mid 90s where nothing was standardised and middleware didn’t yet exist.  This honestly looks fairly comparable to Croc 1, which is no mean feat.

Kudos!

Edited by Dcubed
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10 hours ago, Cube said:

Doraemon is a 3D platformer and is a lot like Mario, but different in many ways. You have access to five different characters (plus a bonus one after beating the game) – Doraemon himself and the kids he hangs out with. There’s a girl that jumps higher than the rest and throws bombs, there’s kid that looks like Tommy Pickles that punches and does more damage, while Doraemon has an arm cannon. Interestingly, the title character, Nobita, is just a poor gameplay clone of Doraemon, so there’s no reason to ever use him. You can swap between them at will, but the game never makes use of this mechanic.

Doraemon was huge in Portugal and Spain (still is, I think)... but not yet in 1997, so this game never came out here :heh: I'm impressed that such a substantial adaptation came out so early for the N64.

Anyway, that Nobita comment made me laugh :laughing: Him being useless is pretty faithful to the show!

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12 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Anyway, that Nobita comment made me laugh :laughing: Him being useless is pretty faithful to the show!

The second game makes that much clearer. They're making fun of him being useless, and then he accidentally strands them in another world and sets an apocalypse in motion.

F1 Pole Position 64

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  • JP release: 28th March 1997
  • PAL release: 1st October 1997
  • NA release: 15th October 1997
  • Developer: Human
  • Publisher: Human (JP) / Ubisoft (NA/PAL)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 71%

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A racing simulation game about Formula 1. This features real racers and tracks, and a lot of options in terms of customising your car. You can play through a entire Grand Prix (10 laps per race, with qualifiers to improve your start position), individual races or time trials. It was the N64’s first racing simulation game.

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The biggest problem with F1 Pole Position is the draw distance. You can never see much of the track, so you can’t see upcoming turns at all. It’s also very distracting as stands and buildings appear out of thin air. The up-close graphics are well-detailed for the N64, but it doesn’t mean much when it hampers the gameplay severely. To make matters worse, your icon on the minimap is not very clear and blurs in with all the others.

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The driving feels a bit sluggish and unresponsive, too. It doesn’t feel broken, it just isn’t a lot of fun. I’m not very familiar with the history of racing simulation games (all I know is that this was shortly before Gran Turismo), so I can’t comment on how this fared for the genre, but it’s not really a game that needs to be looked back upon.

Quote

The tunnel at Monaco still constructs itself as you speed through it, making it impossible to judge when you’re about to emerge from the end at 200 Mph into the slow chicane.

- Jonathan Davies, N64 Magazine #7

Remake or Remaster?

Other F1 games have eclipsed this one.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get F1 Pole Position.

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Had no idea that Human worked on this one.  Man, they really got around didn’t they?

Also weird to think that this was one of only two games that Human ever made for the N64.

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22 hours ago, Dcubed said:

Had no idea that Human worked on this one.  Man, they really got around didn’t they?

It was even called "Human Grand Prix" in Japan.

J.League Live 64

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  • JP release: 28th March 1997
  • PAL release: N/A
  • NA release: N/A
  • Developer: EA
  • Publisher: EA

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J.League Live 64 is essentially FIFA 64 for the Japanese J.League. However, it does have notable differences from the Western version of the game, the most obvious being far fewer teams as it’s just the one league.

However, there are some improvements. The HUD is miles better, showing the score and the name of the current player you control. There is also some team management, so you can change your starting squad and make substitutions. The “GOAL” and similar text is also nice an colourful.

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The gameplay, however, feels even more broken than FIFA 64. Passing once again is often wrong, with your player passing behind you or even empty space. This time round, it doesn’t recognise you pressing the button half of the time. To counter this, the opponent AI is pretty terrible, and even set up a few shots for me by doing a lob from near the corner into their own box.

Slowdown is also a worse problem, with the game chugging and then rapidly speeding up, leading to mistakes. This really is a terrible game.

Quote

The speed of the game is infuriatingly slow. Even the advent of a speed-up button does nothing to encourage pacy wing play or break away goals, as a press of the very same button equates to only the tiniest injection of extra leg work.

- Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #3 (FIFA 64)

Remake or Remaster?

This is an even worse version of FIFA 64, nobody needs reminding of that.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get J.League Live 64.

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It's an EA game, nuff said.  They don't deserve any further commentary from me.

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@Dcubed I don't think you'll like one of my later reviews.

DOOM 64

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  • NA release: 4th April 1997
  • JP release: 1st August 1997
  • PAL release: 2nd December 1997
  • Developer: Midway
  • Publisher: Midway (US) / Gamebank (JP) GT Interactive (PAL_
  • N64 Magazine Score: 77%

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A name like DOOM 64 gives the impression that this is a port of the popular DOOM – especially as the original game did get a lot of ports. However, this is a sequel to the first two DOOM games, featuring completely new models. I played the very faithful remaster from Nightdrive (it doesn’t add any gameplay features, just some optional extra levels), along with a mod that restored a few more minor things from the N64 game.

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As far as DOOM goes, this is considered to be a great version, with some refined gameplay and graphics. The levels focus more on puzzles and horror, although the “horror” is more just really dark levels (I ended up turning up the brightness to see) and the puzzles are a lot of pressing buttons and trying to figure out what part of the level changed. The soundtrack was also changed to a more ambient sound, so it lacks the rocking soundtrack of the original games.

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If this was a launch title on the N64, it would have been even more impressive. However, Turok beat this to be the first FPS on the N64 and DOOM 64 feels very flat in comparison. Very low walls blocking the player now seem much more ridiculous and it seems like you’re still playing on a 2D plane, even when some stuff is higher – you can’t look up or down, but bullets will automatically move upwards.

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For fans of DOOM, this version is definitely worth playing. However, the genre had evolved by the time it was released and this doesn’t do much to update the gameplay of DOOM.

Quote

You seem quite incapable of stepping over even the lowest of obstacles or kerbs. Which is annoying. To compound the sin, Midway actually then go and use some of these low-level obstacles as removable puzzle pieces, blocking your way to later parts of the level. Look, it’s eighteen inches high! A toddler could get over that no trouble at all. Stupidity.

- James Ashton, N64 Magazine #7

Remake or Remaster?

The current remaster does a great job of making the game nicer to play without changing so much.

Official ways to get the game.

The DOOM 64 remaster is available on GOG, Steam, Xbox One/Series, Switch and PS4/5.

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Doom 64 was the victim of some unfortunate launch timing.  Coming after Turok and Quake? It comes across as outdated and behind the times, but it actually ends up aging rather more gracefully than most of its polygon peers on the console.

The name is also very unfortunate, as it gives off the impression that it's just yet another port of the original game; when it's actually a completely original Doom title, and really should've been called Doom 3.  The shift to a more horror-based oppresive atmosphere, over its metal-inspired predecessors, is also something that would later be co-opted by the actual Doom 3 (which ironically is less of a proper Doom game than Doom 64).

While it doesn't re-invent the formula to any major extent (the core gameplay is essentially more of the same) the switch to a true 3D polygon engine now allowed the game and level designers to add proper scripting to each stage, with events now able to be triggered that dramatically alter level layouts in a way that couldn't be done with the original raycasted 2D sprite engine.  There's also a few new weapons and enemies not seen in any other Doom game, you can now do things like shoot through grates in walls, shoot switches from a distance, and there are also booby traps like spikes and dart blocks (how very Tomb Raider!).  It's a look at what a more conservative jump to 3D would've looked like for the FPS genre (and ironically, its style is now back in fashion as the modern "Boomer Shooter").

If there's any real major flaw with the original game? It's that it's just too bloody dark to see properly! This is something thankfully corrected in the modern Nightdive remaster, but if you've ever played this game on original hardware? It's virtually impossible to play on anything but a CRT (or a high quality modern display with the brightness cranked up to max).  This video below was captured on real N64 hardware to give you an idea of how difficult the original version would be to look at properly...

Doom 64 is a game that went largely unappreciated in its own time, but has since gained a bit of a cult following; and deservedly so.  It's a good quality Doom game that does things a bit differently, without straying far from its series roots.  A look at the road not travelled within the genre that ends up being rather unique within the N64 library.

Edited by Dcubed
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Mahjong 64

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  • JP release: 4th April 1997
  • NA release: N/A
  • PAL release: N/A
  • Developer: Chat Noir
  • Publisher: Koei
  • N64 Magazine Score: 65%

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The N64’s second Mahjong game. This one has you graduating a Mahjong school rather than competing against against increasingly skilled players. The defining feature for me are the immensely creepy skeletal hands that come and place the tiles. This massively slows down the game, but can be turned off.

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I found the interface of this one to be a lot less intuitive than Mahjong Masters, not showing you various options clearly. The modes are different ways to play mahjong: through a classroom, through tournaments or individual matches. The opponents don’t make any comments throughout the matches, though. The only additional mode is a quiz where you select mahjong tiles, which seems better than a multiple choice quiz.

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I didn’t like this as much as the previous Mahjong game due to the interface not being as clear, but perhaps the classroom story becomes more meaningful in Japanese.

Quote

There are some nice cherry blossoms in the university grounds, but the tables are a rather insipid shade of green. Instead of friendly faces during the game, you’re subject to the creepy sight of a 3D animated skeletal hand moving tiles about.

- Jonathan Davies, N64 Magazine #3

Remake or Remaster?

Other Mahjong options exist already.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Mahjong 64

---

Also, as this entry was fairly dull and I won't be at a computer tomorrow

Star Fox 64 / Lylat Wars

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  • JP release: 27th April 1997
  • NA release: 30th June 1997
  • PAL release: 4th October 1997
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 91%

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Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars as I knew it as a kid) is a fast-paced on-rails shooter made by Nintendo. The gameplay is extremely solid. Fox’s Awring has lasers that you can charge up for a lock-on, along with limited bombs. Movement is fast and precise and you can perform loops and barrel rolls – the latter reflects bullets.

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If you complete levels normally, you’ll go through a really fun route through the game. On top of the on-rails levels, you’ll also encounter “all range mode” where you can fly in 3D. These typically aren’t as “cinematic” as the on-rails levels, but still a lot of fun.

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Slippy will get attacked by one of the bosses and will crash land on a planet, here you get to use the Landmaster, a tank that is also really fun to use. You can hover temporally and barrel rolls will now move you across most of the screen.

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To get to the credits for the first time, Star Fox 64 is a very short game, but that’s because it’s made to be replayed for a high score, and because it’s so much fun, you don’t mind doing so, trying to get a higher score than last time – but that’s not all of it.

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Most missions in the game has a secret objective, complete this and you’ll get “Mission Accomplished” and to a different mission, the “hard route” will take you across some more challenging missions, although personally this is my least favourite route of the games – while all missions but one of the missions in Star Fox 64 are good, I do think these are some of the weaker ones, plus the one bad mission is in this route.

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The underwater level. It’s slow, plodding and is rather boring. The bombs are replaced with infinite torpedoes which also light up the way, because the level is also dark and dreary. This is easily the worst part of the game, but at least it’s just the one mission.

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Some of my favourite missions are in the middle, including the best all-range mission as you fight an Independence Day-style UFO and the second Landmaster tank mission as you chase a train.

Once you’ve played all the levels, there are also gold medals to unlock, which are extremely difficult. A level select at this point would be nice so you wouldn’t have to work through previous levels, but it does provide something to work towards.

Star Fox 64 is a incredibly fun game, and one you can just have a quick blast through every now and then.

Quote

It’s action packed. It’s technically eye-boggling. It works on a number of levels, being easy enough to be fun but with taxing bits if you search for them. It’s got exciting music. It’s unpredictable. It’s imaginative. It’s got massive explosions. It builds up steadily to a spectacular ending. It’s got everything, in other words, that you look for in a good movie – but in a game. It’s brilliant.

- Jonathan Davies, N64 Magazine #3

Remake or Remaster?

A new home console remaster would be great – have options to toggle between N64 and 3DS graphics, music and voices (using the higher quality original recordings from  the N64 version), some level select options, (perhaps with separate leaderboards for doing induvial levels), widescreen and things like that.

Official ways to get the game

There is no way to buy a new copy of Star Fox 64, the only official way to play is to rent it via the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pak.

Other versions

Star Fox 64 3D

The 3DS got a remake of Star Fox 64, with various enhancements. I personally think the graphics lack the charm of the original (especially the water on Corneria), and the new voice acting and music aren’t quite the same.

Re-releases

2003: iQue

2007: Wii Virtual Console

2016: Wii U Virtual Console

2011: Star Fox 64 3D (remake, 3DS)

2021: Nintendo Switch Online (subscription only)

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Appreciate the title change for that one. Made me chuckle.

Star Fox 64 is a game that doesn't really gel with me. (Star Fox Adventures is the best Star Fox game, don't @ me) But that's more a case of me not being a huge fan of the genre. I can still appreciate it though. Half of the dialogue lives rent free in my head.

Actually, the voice acting in general is really impressive for the time. 90's voice acting was very much a "Any voice acting is better then no voice acting" period of time, but Star Fox 64 is still among the best we've seen from a Ninty game. It used to be the best, but then Kid Icarus: Uprising came along and took that honour.

Edited by Glen-i
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Lylat Wars was, as far as I remember, the first Nintendo game we got that was fullscreen. I think until that point only Rare was putting out N64 games that were properly optimised for PAL tellies.

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51 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Star Fox 64 is a game that doesn't really gel with me. (Star Fox Adventures is the best Star Fox game, don't @ me) But that's more a case of me not being a huge fan of the genre. I can still appreciate it though. Half of the dialogue lives rent free in my head.

Actually, the voice acting in general is really impressive for the time. 90's voice acting was very much a "Any voice acting is better then no voice acting" period of time, but Star Fox 64 is still among the best we've seen from a Ninty game. It used to be the best, but then Kid Icarus: Uprising came along and took that honour.

I am looking forward to playing as much of I can of a certain prototype (although it's a while away yet)

Spoiler

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I do find it odd that they re-recoded all the lines for Star Fox 64 3D when fans were able to find uncompressed versions of the original. 

@darksnowman I think it's amusing that the PAL N64 box art features massive black borders, considering that was a common issue with PAL versions of games (which is why I'm mainly using US box art, the art covers the full box).

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3 hours ago, Cube said:

Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars as I knew it as a kid) is a fast-paced on-rails shooter made by Nintendo. The gameplay is extremely solid. Fox’s Awring has lasers that you can charge up for a lock-on, along with limited bombs. Movement is fast and precise and you can perform loops and barrel rolls – the latter reflects bullets.

And it's how you should know it as an adult too, you goddamm heathen.

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22 minutes ago, Cube said:

 I think it's amusing that the PAL N64 box art features massive black borders, considering that was a common issue with PAL versions of games (which is why I'm mainly using US box art, the art covers the full box).

Hard to think of anything beyond Majora's Mask that didn't follow that template. I always found it disconcerting the way cardboard insert worked—it was like Game Boy boxing except upside down. Ropey. Wished those carts were fully insulated like SNES games.

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15 minutes ago, darksnowman said:

Hard to think of anything beyond Majora's Mask that didn't follow that template.

Pokémon Stadium off the top of my head, I'mma gonna check my collection when I get home... I'm sure I have more!

Are we talking about all the way around black border, or where they have just one bar on the right? 

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6 minutes ago, EEVILMURRAY said:

Are we talking about all the way around black border, or where they have just one bar on the right? 

Borders all the way round for Nintendo-published games. Third party games tended to have the black bar on the right.

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